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Sinusitis

What Are The Symptoms Of Sinusitis?

Last modified: 
24/04/2012 - 13:02

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

Symptoms of sinusitis vary from person to person. While one person may have all of the symptoms, someone else may have only one or two of them.

Acute sinusitis is usually painful, while chronic sinusitis is generally more uncomfortable than painful.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Clear, thin discharge from the nose (as in chronic sinusitis), or thick yellow or green discharge from the nose, sometimes tinged with blood (as in acute sinusitis)
  • Sneezing and/or coughing
  • Pain over the bridge of the nose
  • Headache that is worse in the morning, when bending forward, or when riding an elevator
  • Postnasal drip from the nose into the throat
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Reduced sense of smell and/or taste
  • Bad breath
  • Fever and chills
  • Pain in the roof of the mouth or teeth
  • Face and eye pain

If there is facial or eye pain, the condition is acute, and it is easy to tell which sinus openings are blocked. If blowing the nose does not bring forth enough mucus, a gentle massaging of the areas of facial pain can sometimes help reduce blockage.

Less common symptoms, which may or may not be accompanied by a stuffy nose, are:

  • Earache, feeling of fullness in the ear, swelling and tenderness behind the ear, and/or ear popping due to mucus in the eustachian tube of the ear
  • Sore throat and hoarse voice caused by infected postnasal drip
  • Swelling of the eye area due to a spread of infection from the sinuses to the eye
  • Severe headache with vomiting, a very rare symptom, which indicates the possibility of meningitis, caused by a spread of the infection into the brain.

    For more information about meningitis, go to Meningitis.

Need To Know:

The symptoms of sinusitis are very similar to those of the common cold. Especially with children, the symptoms may mimic a cold, and only a doctor's examination can determine the true cause. If the symptoms do not subside within 10 days, or if there is any fever, a doctor should be consulted.

Are Sinusitis And Chest Congestion Related?

Just as with a head cold that moves into the chest, sinusitis and chest congestion often occur together. This is because the respiratory system of the chest and sinuses are connected to one another. Chest congestion and sinusitis also have similar causes.

Just as infections of the sinuses can become severe if not treated early, an infection of the chest can lead to pneumonia without early medical attention.

Therefore, people with conditions causing chest congestion, such as asthma or bronchitis, are especially prone to rhinitis and sinusitis. Often, treating sinusitis also improves the symptoms of asthma, bronchitis, and chest infections.

For more information about asthma, go to Asthma In Children or Asthma.

For more information about bronchitis, go to Bronchitis.

For more information about pneumonia, go to Pneumonia.

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From Andrew Maynard - Chair of the University of Michigan Department of Environmental Health Sciences, with help from David Faulkner - 2013 Master of Public Health graduate.